Claire's blog

New government plans to push fracking on unwilling communities

UPDATE: Friends of the Earth have a petition out to stop the government from forcing fracking on communities, read more about it and add your signature here

Fracking is deeply unpopular, but the government seems determined that minor details like local democracy cannot be an obstacle to the industry. Today's ministerial statement by Greg Clark,Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and James Brokenshire, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government makes that clear.

Two consultations have been announced:

1. 'On the principle of whether non-hydraulic fracturing shale exploration development should be treated as permitted development, and in particular on the circumstances in which this might be appropriate'.

2. 'On the criteria required to trigger the inclusion of shale production projects into the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects regime.' [i.e. decided by central government alone]

NPPF - planning for a fracked up future? Act by 10 May

new planning framework out for consultation now would set in stone a dangerous double standard. However unpopular fracking applications might be, the guidance would mean planning authorities would have to 'facilitate' them. Yet they would be forced to reject wind turbines in almost all cases, even if public opinion was in favour.

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) for England will determine what can be built in coming years, guiding local authorities in the preparation of development plans and decisions on planning applications. 

It could open us up to a fracking-free-for-all, while making new onshore wind almost impossible.

Can you spare 15 minutes (or even 5!) to have your say?

(Many thanks to Frack Free Ryedale for useful resources on this consultation)

How to respond

The draft text is here, and you can respond via the online form (this seems relatively straightforward, you navigate by ticking a box for the page you want to go to and clicking 'Next'). NB. it is fine to only leave comments in response to one or two questions! You can also send responses by email to planningpolicyconsultation@communities.gsi.gov.uk (don't forget to include your name and address and be clear which section you are commenting on if you do this). The deadline for responses is 11.45pm Thursday 10 May.

Chapter 14: 'Meeting the challenge of climate change'

At first glance the draft text may seem reasonable, but a key footnote tells a different story...

Footnote 40: "A proposed wind energy development involving one or more wind turbines should not be considered acceptable unless it is in an area identified as suitable for wind energy development in the development plan; and, following consultation, it can be demonstrated that the planning impacts identified by the affected local community have been fully addressed and the proposal has their backing"

IMO, don't sink Paris! Climate and shipping protest

On Tuesday, the Campaign against Climate Change joined others outside the International Maritime Organization, at the start of crucial negotiations to determine how (and whether) shipping carbon emissions will be cut. If the shipping industry were a country, it would be sixth in the list of carbon polluters, between Germany and Japan. But because the Paris climate agreement is based on nationally determined contributions from member countries, as yet it has no specific obligations to cut carbon. If shipping emissions continued to grow, it could be 17% (almost a fifth) of the world’s total emissions by 2050.

The Marshall Islands have proposed that the IMO should aim for zero emissions by 2035 while a group of EU, Pacific countries and NGOs are arguing for at least 70% (and aiming for 100%) by 2050. But Brazil and some other countries oppose any absolute cap on carbon emissions, and others are arguing for a weak compromise deal not compatible with the Paris climate agreement.

Ship stewards welcomed delegates aboard the 'Good Ship Paris', handing out boarding cards with instructions 'for your comfort and climate safety', while on the other side of the Thames, someone had cleaned sections of the wall to reveal a message: "IMO Don't Sink Paris".

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